Women's Health during and after Pregnancy: A Theory-Based Study of Adaptation to Change

By Lorraine Tulman; Jacqueline Fawcett | Go to book overview

Preface

Childbearing typically is characterized as a period of good health for most women in the United States. Despite this fact, medical and nursing textbooks describe the time after delivery as one of recovery from childbearing, thereby implying that pregnancy and delivery are illnesses. We believe that a more accurate perspective is that of adaptation. In particular, we view both pregnancy and the postpartum as times of considerable and often profound change requiring adaptation.

In this book, we describe the results of a National Institute for Nursing Research, National Institutes of Health-funded longitudinal study of women's health during pregnancy and the postpartum—including physical and psychosocial health, functional status, and family relationships—based in the Roy Adaptation Model (Grant Number RO1NR02340). More specifically, we present a detailed description of how women's physical health, psychosocial health, and family relationships are related to their usual household, social and community, child care, occupational, educational, and personal care activities, that is, their functional status during pregnancy and the postpartum. The study participants included more than 200 women whom we followed throughout the three trimesters of pregnancy and the first six postpartum months.

The study was an outcome of our longstanding commitment to enhancing understanding of women's health during life transitions, with childbearing as the prototype for women's adaptation during a normal life transition. Our journey to this study began when we recognized the need for an instrument to measure functioning as an outcome for a study of the effects of antepartum information on women's adaptation to unplanned Cesarean birth. The subsequent construction and psychometric testing of the Inventory of Functional Status After Childbirth was the beginning of a research program designed to examine women's functioning during the childbearing period. The study described in this book presents the largest of the studies in our research program to date and represents an extension of our thinking from a relatively narrow focus on functioning to a broader focus on women's health and adaptation during the normal life transition of childbearing, including both pregnancy and the postpartum.

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